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Pa. family honors memory of young boy through various events

Foundation raises funds to help others with grief, provide educational opportunities

November 11, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Willow Weir, her husband Ian Weir and their children Jalene Hummer, 13, and Rylan Hummer, 13 stretch before Dash for Drew in Greencastle, Pa., on Saturday.
Photo by Roxann Miller

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — After a 2006 traffic accident claimed the life of Drew Michael Taylor, his family decided to create a foundation in his name.

The mourning family members managed to turn one of the most heartbreaking events in their lives into a way to help others through Dash for Drew and the eventual Drew Michael Taylor Foundation.

Every year, for the past seven, those who knew Drew and those who had only heard of the tragedy, gather at Greencastle-Antrim High School, lace up their sneakers and make the two-mile trek around the school’s track and through Tayamentaschta Environmental Center in Greencastle.

The run is one of many events to raise funds that the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation needs to pay for educational opportunities, and grief and loss support programs for children, teens and their families, Drew’s mother, Marcie Taylor, said after Saturday’s race.

“We honor Drew’s memory by making a positive difference in the lives of children and youth,” Marcie Taylor said.

“Death and dying aren’t topics that people want to talk about, but as a society, we need to talk about them because I think so many people want bereaved people to get over their grief,” Taylor said.

People need support and it takes money to run the program, she said.

The Drew Michael Taylor Foundation is the only program for children, teens and their families in the region, Taylor said.

Four years ago, eight families participated in a grief and loss support session. Seventeen signed up for the latest sessions.

“So word is growing that this is important and necessary,” Taylor said. “I know there are still a lot more families that don’t know about it or who won’t come.”

This year, 400 runners attended Dash for Drew.

“The community continues to rally behind the cause,” Taylor said.

Willow Weir, 36, and her family didn’t know Drew, but they wanted to be part of the fundraiser.

“I lost a child when she was just 2 weeks old,” Weir said. She wanted to be there to support the Taylors.

“This is so important to those who have suffered the lost of a child. There’s a lot of support here,” Weir said.

Weir’s 12-year-old daughter, Kayla Rhoads of Chambersburg, Pa., pushed her little cousin around the course.

“I think it’s a worthwhile cause. As I was pushing my cousin, I thought about how devastating it would be to lose her at such a young age,” Kayla said.

Drew’s grandmother, Shirley Ditzler, 65, wouldn’t have missed a chance to dash for Drew.

With every step, she thought of him.

“I just feel it was Drew’s purpose,” said Ditzler, who was wearing a sweat shirt honoring him. “He changed the direction of his parents with all the help they are doing for the community. I am just inspired by them.”

She felt that Drew was just coming into his own and embracing life when he died at age 3.

“I can remember the morning of that accident he was helping his mom make pancakes,” Ditzler said. “He cracked an egg one-handed. I can’t even do that.”

Even though she misses Drew every day, she thinks he left with a purpose.

“This has shown me that there are still good, compassionate people out there and we don’t always see that,” Ditzler said.

Dash for Drew winners

Scholastic winners (ages 18 and younger)

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  • Ben Heckman, 16, 11:45
  • Abby Yourkavitch, 12, 13:38

Open (ages 19 to 39)

  • Matt Kuhns, 34, 11:58
  • Lindsay Bryant, 25 13:31

Masters (older than 40)

  • Matt Elgin, 41, 10:59
  • Crystal Yoder, 45, 15:36

For more information

For more information about the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation, log on to www.drewmichaeltaylor.org.

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